Spring break is the best time to visit colleges. Thankfully, for most students it comes late this year.
A typical campus visit takes two hours: roughly one hour each for an info session and a tour. I frequently wag my finger at parents who want to squeeze two and sometimes three college visits in per day over spring break. I tell them that if your child is considering spending four or more years (less than 50 percent of freshmen will graduate within four years) at this college, it is worth more than two hours of your time.
*Plan ahead: You can reduce the stress and even interject some vacation downtime. If this is a family adventure, try to anticipate everyone's threshold for college visits and driving distances. Mix up the schedule and include everyone in the decision making.
*Create an itinerary: Map out your visit. Be sure to determine the specific campus tour and information session times before you book anything. Don't assume that every college offers tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or that all college admissions offices are open on the weekends.
Find fun places to spend the night and enjoy your meals. Some families make it a mini-vacation by booking their overnights at bed-and-breakfasts, cozy inns or even nearby resorts. Research restaurant options that are appealing to younger siblings.
*Explore: Build time into the itinerary to visit the surrounding area.
*Dress appropriately: Wear sensible shoes for a walking tour. Students should dress nicely, but jackets and ties and fancy dresses are not necessary.
*Document your visits: Take photos and notes during and after each visit, because the campuses will start to blur in your mind.
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.